Planning an event can be an exciting experience. Whether it is the celebration of a newly married couple or a corporate event that aims to galvanize its employees, every event has its unique elements, and you can bet there will be a few challenges along the way.
As an event planner, one of your main goals will be to navigate the event with the least stress possible. Communication, preparation, attention to detail and the anticipation of issues are keys to less stress. Networking with other experienced professionals is also a great way to lessen the stress and avoid making mistakes throughout the planning process. To get you started, here are four mistakes to avoid when planning an event.
Lack of Communication
Communication is critical, and this is why it is first on the list. In many instances, not just event planning, people fail to communicate effectively, which leads to unnecessary strain on all parties involved. As an event planner, your job is to communicate with several groups of people. To start, you and the client have to have clear communication from the event’s inception to post-event. After the client, here is a list of other involved parties that need your attention:
- Event planning staff or planning committee
- Venue management
With so many people involved, communication is vital to executing a successful event. After your client shares the details, come up with a plan to maintain consistent communication throughout the entire planning process. One way to do this is to embrace technology.
Technology is your friend when it comes to planning an event. There are so many applications and tools you can utilize to be successful, and here is a list of a few favorites from global mobile provider StrayBoots.com:
- Top Table Planner
Do your research to find a solution that works best for you and your team and give yourself ample time to get acquainted with the nuances of your tools so you can not only communicate with everyone but also serve as a resource in case the other parties are having challenges with utilizing the apps as well. It may help create a digital guide or facilitate a training session for users who need a little more help.
Trying to Do Everything By Yourself
We’ve heard the saying, “If you want something done right, do it by yourself.” Self-sufficiency may be effective in some instances, but planning an event is usually not the time to stretch this muscle. Large-scale events and backyard barbecues may not have the exact requirements, but it is not wise to attempt to execute an event alone – especially when you don’t have to do so. If you plan a personal or more intimate affair, ask a few close friends you trust to help with some of the more minor duties. These should be reliable people who are creative and organized because they can offer easier ways to manage everything. On the day of the event, it is always helpful to have a “runner,” or someone who doesn’t mind running around to do the last-minute or emergency tasks like grabbing more ice.
A business event or large-scale event like a wedding will require a few more hands. If you are planning a corporate event for your company, enlist help by forming a committee that can help with the planning process. Ultimately the benefit of having support allows you to delegate tasks so you can focus on higher-level tasks. It should keep you from being overwhelmed and serve as additional eyes in case you miss small details. A team effort is a win in the long run for everyone involved.
It is great to be a stickler when it comes to being detailed; however, there are instances where people can over plan an event. Overplanning is defined as planning excessively or in more detail than necessary. Overplanning can come in the form of adding too many sub-events, having too many special features, and planning your event down to the minute can be overwhelming to guests. Overplanning leaves no room for organic fun and interaction as well.
To avoid having this issue, we recommend creating clear and concise high-level goals at the beginning of the planning process and ensuring that all decisions made during the planning are “pitted” up against those goals as checks and balances. Many committees and clients come to the table with innovative ideas, but every idea is not for every event. If you ask yourself whether each idea directly correlates to your overall goals and budget, you can avoid overplanning and having too many sticks in the fire. This is also a way to keep you as a planner from feeling the pressure to include any and everything in your one event, although it is understandable that many planners feel the pressure to meet new standards for live events in the age of digital media. Don’t allow the pressure to get you – make it easier on you, your team, and guests. While we caution that you avoid making the mistake of overplanning, we DO recommend that you always have a backup plan.
Not Having Backup Plans
It is one of the most common mistakes people make when planning an event. While we all hope that events (and life) go exactly as planned, things always happen. Again – something always happens. Events are managed and attended by humans, and humans make mistakes, forget things, and don’t consider all of the components of an event and how they are connected. Knowing this is half the battle. Accepting this and anticipating the things that could go wrong is another story.
Hospitality industry leader SunInternational says this:
When large numbers of people and large amounts of money are at stake, there is no such thing as being over-prepared. Make a backup plan for everything that can possibly go wrong. For the significant things, have two backup plans. Here are some common mishaps to prepare for:
- Your guest speaker is a no-show: have a back-up speaker waiting in the wings to step in and save the day.
- A vendor cancels at the last minute: have a list of back-up vendors (caterers, entertainers, etc) on file that you can call on if a hired vendor fails to fulfill their contract.
- Unexpected bad weather: if you’re planning an outdoor event, you should have a contingency plan in place to move your event to a secondary indoor venue should the weather turn bad.
Hopefully, we haven’t scared you, and these tips will help you throughout your planning process. If nothing else, just remember to enjoy the process and know that while you cannot avoid making every mistake, you are already off to a great start.
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